The extension of the Macon County Airport runway is approximately two months away from completion, according to airport engineer Eric Rysdon, who reported to Airport Authority members on April 25 that the paving process has begun.
“By the end of May or beginning of June they should be done with paving,” said Rysdon, adding that approximately one month after paving, the finishing touches of the extension will be applied while additional lights are installed to make the runway operational.
Rhodes Brothers Paving has taken on the paving project under the commission of Buchanan and Sons, Inc., based out of Whittier, who began the project last October for the price of $2.6 million.
“Very good,” said Authority chairman Milles Gregory. “It’s hard to believe that we’re at this point.”
The extension project will bring the airport into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] regulations for the maximum size of the aircraft which currently utilize the facility, including small private jets. The project will also expand the safety area around the runway by 300 feet.
A new hangar in sight
While the completion of the runway extension draws near, the Authority is now taking steps to construct a new hangar for potential future tenants that have shown interest in storing their planes at the airport.
At their March meeting, Macon County Airport Authority members voiced their intent to begin the process of hangar construction to accompany the extension of the airport’s runway. Authority member Harold Corbin advised that a loan to build a large hangar be sought immediately, since the application would take at least three months to be processed.
Following up from last month’s meeting, Corbin said this month that he received an estimate from a local contractor amounting to $50,333 for the construction of an insulated metal 60x60’ hangar. The price would include foundation work, but not utilities.
“That sounds like a really good price,” said Authority member Gary Schmitt, owner of Schmitt Building Contractors, Inc.
The hangar would be large enough to house three aircraft. The advantage, Corbin noted, would be that all three planes would collect $600 a month, supplying the airport with up to $1,800 a month in lease revenue, which would pay for the loan.
In order to obtain a loan to begin hangar construction, Authority members decided to collect letters of intent from individuals interested in renting hangar space, and to prepare a list of architectural specifications for the hangar. “Let’s get on with it and get our ducks in a row and do it,” said Corbin, emphasizing the urgency of the matter.
The Authority unanimously voted to endorse the concept of building a corporate hangar. Members plan to schedule a meeting some time after May 18 but before their June meeting, at which time they will compile all information and review the architectural certification.
Once plans are agreed upon, the Authority can begin the bidding process. Gregory estimated that the hangar construction could begin within two months.